This is it, the day dreaded by most of us. Accountants have the worst of it. I feel for them, especially the newbies who are going through it for the first time. They will be working until midnight filing electronically so that Uncle Sam can continue to do the Constitutionally mandated work that keeps us going. The taxes we pay are about two-thirds of what the government uses to fund its operations.
From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities website: In fiscal year 2011, the federal government spent $3.6 trillion, amounting to 24 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). Of that, $2.3 trillion was financed by federal tax revenues. The remaining $1.3 trillion was financed by borrowing.
The annual exercise of paying our fair shares is theoretically necessary to the proper working of our government. It’s what provides for the many services that we receive as Americans.
Yes, you receive services from the government even if you don’t think so, and even if you don’t see them easily. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration makes sure that our skies are safe (even for those who believe in the chemtrails theory). It is important to remember that the planes are not crashing into each other; that those metal tubes filled with people are safely landing, well operated and that the pilots are properly trained.
Our tax dollars go for the military, and whether you agree with any individual war or battle is not really the point. The fact that we have a military that is ready to defend our country, that funds research for new materials and applications which have become part of our everyday life, and trains people how to be better, more effective and productive is a good thing. I’ve thought for years that we would be better off as a country if we had mandatory military training.
When I am fighting for a father’s right to see his child, or defending someone in a domestic violence case, my client and I are using the common assets of the courts. When I am in downtown Los Angeles fighting an international child custody case, the judge, his courtroom, and the district attorney are paid for by all of our taxes.
Those media companies that feed messages to America all day long on the airwaves are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. They set standards, they administer licenses to the giants like Clear Channel about how much of a radio market they can own so that there is some diversity in the airwaves. The hope is that we as listeners wont hear only the message of the marketers.
All Americans are serviced by the federal government on a daily, if not more, basis. The fact that we have a workable society, as crazy as some aspects of it are, is a testament to the value we receive for those tax dollars we pay. You are reading a free paper, but if you think about it for a second, we have a country that allows this paper to print almost anything under the rights of the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment. I can write anything here (well my editor may disagree, but in theory I can write anything). I can call the president a pariah or a prince and it’s protected free speech.
When we drive to work, whether it is across town or across the country, we are using roads that are paid for by tax dollars. They are kept safe by our tax dollars providing for the California Highway Patrol and the National Highway Transportation Safety Board, which is part of the Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT regulates roads and waterways for safe transport of people and goods.
I know it’s a lot of regulation, but imagine what it would be like if we didn’t have a DOT to set some rules on what companies like Wal-Mart and Dow Chemical Co. can do on our roads? Would you really want a world where companies that ship those big containers had no regulations?
Take for example a fish processor in Half Moon Bay, Calif. — Fujino Enterprises Inc. — doing business as Blue Ocean Smokehouse. They were accused by the Food and Drug Administration of not properly storing or packaging seafood products, creating the possibility of consumers contracting botulism and other food hazards.
“This company has ignored warnings by FDA and the California Department of Public Health by continuing to sell seafood that puts consumers’ health at risk,” said Dara A. Corrigan, associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “We are taking this action, in part, as a result of collaborative enforcement actions with our state partner and as part of our joint efforts to protect the public health.”
That’s state and federal tax dollars at work. It’s not fun, it’s not glamorous, it’s not what you would spend your money on, but that is why we need taxes.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.